Sex, Guns, & Bathrooms

I’ll admit, I’ve always been a staunchly opposed to men entering the women’s restroom and vice versa. To some extent, it was because of weirdos and perverts (though not entirely). I’ve always been very against people having sex changes and to a point, I still am. However, there comes a point where we must face the realities of the situations and accept them no matter how unpleasant they may be. I’ve always said that one does not have the right to not have their feelings/sensibilities hurt and this applies to everyone, including myself. I now agree that transgender people should be allowed to use the restroom of their choice. Please note, I do not feel that the law should require that they be allowed to use what restroom they associate with, that should be left up to the establishment they are visiting. My feelings on government interfering with businesses is a blog for another time, however.

A friend of mine who is transgender has opened my eyes to this issue, though perhaps not in the way that he expected. The problem with our current treatment of the transgender crowd is also the problem with how we treat two other groups of people; namely gun owners and sex offenders. Woah, did I just compare transgender people to gun owners and sex offenders? No, go back and read what I said if you think I did. I compared our treatment of transgender folk with how we treat gun owners and sex offenders.

It seems to me the big hub-bub about transgender people using the bathroom is fear of perverts and confusing the children. Now, if this were a locker room, I’d say you’ve got a pretty reasonable argument. Locker rooms happen to have a habit of being full of naked people. Sorry, transfolk, but if you still got your junk as you were born with, you need to be in the appropriate locker room. You may not be a pervert, but society just isn’t ready for parents to be answering questions like, “Why does that lady have a penis?” Children ask awkward enough questions without having to go into complicated subject material such as this. Plus, think of the inevitable cat calls.

ladygodiva

“I’ll give you a penis.”

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-DIG-pga-00084

But the focus hasn’t been on locker rooms, has it? No, it’s been on public restrooms. Now, I haven’t visited every toilet in America, but it’s of my general experience in men’s restrooms that penises aren’t just swinging to and fro all willy-nilly like. In fact, there’s an unspoken and agreed upon etiquette that is to be strictly obeyed if there is no divider between the toilets. I have been to communal urinal troths where ten penises are out, all side by side, mere inches from each other and I can guarantee you not one dick was seen.

notevendetroit

Not even in Detroit, and most of them didn’t even use their hands.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress LC-USW3- 008704-C

So what does this have to do with how we treat gun owners and sex offenders?

People today seem all up in arms about people with guns, and yes, violent horrible crimes happen with guns. They also happen with knives, gasoline, hands, and a myriad of other instruments. The fact of the matter is, if someone wants to kill a bunch of people, you telling them that they can’t have a gun isn’t going to stop them. They will either find a way to get a gun illegally or they will find some other way to achieve their goal. I personally have never once been afraid of someone with a gun. I have been approached and/or been around many people in my life that have had some sort of firearm on them. Often times I didn’t even know the person. Why should I fear someone with a gun? Unless they take it out and point it at me, it’s generally safe to assume that they are a good law abiding citizen. And yet somehow there are people who feel we need to ban guns under the false assumption that it will stop a few assholes from being assholes. It might slow them down a little, but do you really think anyone who really wants to kill someone is worried about whether or not guns are legal?

What about sex offenders? Well, first of all, we have a sex offender registry that is a complete joke. It’s a device that stops almost zero crime and ruins the lives of people who made stupid mistakes. You want proof that it doesn’t stop any crime? I’m going to let cracked.com explain the problem.

So you take a guy who’s committed a crime. Now you put him on a registry that may keep him from getting a job, or making friends, generally just totally isolating him for the rest of his life and giving him lots of free time. Do you think that makes him less likely to commit another crime?

And how does knowing there’s a sex offender in your neighborhood help? Unless he’s wearing some kind of clanging Sex Offender bell around his neck to let you and your child know he’s approaching, it doesn’t protect you from a guy looking to do it again. And then you’ve got the fact that 95 percent of sexual assault victims are victimized by somebody they already know anyway.

So what’s the point? Deterrence? As it turns out, someone who is willing to abduct, rape and murder a child often isn’t stopped by the fact that he’ll get put on a “registry” if he’s caught.

Well, I guess there’s that. Then there are places that have laws that say a sex offender can’t live near a school. That sounds good on paper until you realize that the law actually makes the situation worse.

The law that suddenly forced sex offenders to move out of their homes if they lived within 1,000 feet of a school. While maybe that SOUNDED protective,  the evidence shows residency restrictions have no effect — zero! none! — on child safety. In fact, they can actually backfire: Guys who’d been living peacefully in the same place for years are suddenly uprooted. Inevitably, some become homeless, destabilizing the people who need stability most.

And here we have a small group of people who just want to take a piss. Comfortably. In private. As a society, we’re treating them like some sort of violent criminal or vicious pervert. And yet when we look at the laws restricting gun use and the laws on sex offenders, we often find that they do little to no good. In fact, they sometimes make the problem worse. Allow me to put this simply: You can’t stop crazy. A killer is going to kill, regardless of what laws you pass. A pervert is going to be a pervert regardless of what laws you pass. And the dude who feels comfortable as a woman just wants to take a shit without an awkward conversation.

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G.I. Joe Made Me Afraid of Refrigerators

Growing up in the eighties, we had access to some of the best cartoons ever. G.I. Joe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so on. On most of the programs I watched, there was a public service announcement (or PSA) at the end of every episode. These usually involved things like, “Stealing is wrong,” “Don’t do drugs,” or “Playing with matches is dangerous.” To me, most of these seemed quite obvious, but there was one that made me terrified of refrigerators for years. Basically, a group of kids were trying to find their friend, John. A G.I. Joe named Recondo just happens to be walking through and asks what’s going on. The children explain the situation and Recondo looks over to see an old refrigerator, and immediately assumes he’s in there (and he was right). Opening the door, Recondo finds John suffocating. The PSA never explains why John was in the fridge; we’re simply left to make our own assumptions about what led to this event.

fridgeofdeath

What the hell was he even doing in there? The world will never know.

You see, growing up when I did, I had no concept of a latching refrigerator. Every refrigerator I had ever seen and used worked the same way we do today. Open the door, get what you need, and when you close it the suction keeps it closed. Simple as that. I had no knowledge that a few decades prior, refrigerators were held closed by a latch that was released when you pulled the handle. When the door was closed, the latch simply fell back into place. And the time when I was growing up was when it more and more common for these refrigerators to be discarded.

deathfridge

Beware! It’s lust for blood holds no boundries.

Once I saw that PSA, I knew that every time I went for food, I was playing a dangerous game, risking my life for a glass of milk or a delicious strawberry. I would swing the door open as wide as I could, grab what I needed, and leap out of the way before it would close. It wasn’t until sometime later that I decided to get over my fears once and for all. One day when my friend Rob was over and my mother hadn’t done the grocery shopping yet, I decided to take out the shelves and get in the fridge. I told him if I started banging on the door to open it up. So I got and he closed the door. Once sealed inside, I pushed the door back open with ease. I was elated. Refrigerators weren’t dangerous at all. Those guys on G.I. Joe were so stupid. What else were they wrong about? Downed power cables? Swimming in lightning storms? Surely if they had the refrigerator thing wrong, they must be wrong about other things too. Or maybe, they had teamed up with parents for some scare tactics. Contacting childrens cartoons to make kids obey sounds just like the sort of thing parents would do.

It was a few years later when I actually learned about latching refrigerators. Suddenly the PSA made a lot more sense to me. Thankfully, I never did get injured pushing againts the warnings of other PSAs, though I think I did go swimming in a lightning storm. That is until I saw a tree nearby. As we all know, lightnight loves trees and trees love water.

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Look at it there, waiting to kill.

Duck & Cover

Most young adults today are much to young to remember to the Cold War, yet since they are perhaps the most vocal crowd in media, it’d be easy to for them forget that it wasn’t that long ago the Cold War came to an end. Less than twenty-five years ago, actually. The Cold War was a magical time of spies, espionage, no actual war, and constant threat of nuclear annihilation.

As a child growing up in the eighties, the Soviets were always our biggest fear. The world maps in our classrooms didn’t help matters any. Every country was color coded so that you could distinctly discern borders. Looking at a map you would see lots of small colors and then there would be this giant red mass labeled U.S.S.R. That thing was terrifying and the only thing keeping us safe from the Ruskies was ocean. And then we learned about the Bering Strait and realized that they could attack us from Canada if they so desired.

terror map

This is what a map made entirely out of terror looks like.

The movie Red Dawn didn’t help things any either. I hadn’t even seen the movie at that point and yet there were many times I worried that I’d look out the window and see Russian paratroopers falling out of the sky. Remember, this was a plausible scenario back then. We already knew that there were Commie spies among us; we just didn’t know when they’d strike. Thankfully, we could take solace knowing that Patrick Swayze and Sylvester Stallone would be there to save us should things ever go down. That is if they didn’t drop the bomb on us first.

This being the Cold War, the possibility of nuclear winter was always a reality. The federal government made sure we were all prepared in case such an event happened. As elementary school students, we learned the importance of Duck and Cover. What’s that, you may ask. Duck and Cover is what you were to do in case of a nuclear attack. While you may all be familiar with fire drills, we had nuclear bomb drills. There was even an alarm for it. When the alarm would go off, we would stop what we were doing and hide underneath our desks. The drills were common enough that I can remember looking nervously out the window of my classroom at the water tower and expecting to see a mushroom cloud in the distance. The real terror came if we had a fire drill and had to run outside to a designated area in an orderly fashion. What if the Ruskies had decided to drop a bomb then? There were no desks to protect us. Why the school never had like five giant sized desks outside I’ll never know. Underfunding I suppose.

duckandcover

No joke, this would save your life from a nuclear explosion. Don’t you dare question it!

Speaking of underfunding, I never realized just how underfunded the school system was until the Cold War ended. At the beginning of every school year up until freshman year of high school I think it was, out teachers would point to the big red spot on the map and say “By the way, that doesn’t exist anymore.” For the record, I started high school in 1996. 1996 and we still had maps that depicted the Soviet Union. When they were finally replaced, it seemed so surreal. No longer was there a big red menace casting it’s shadow on the world. Instead, there was just Russia and the world suddenly seemed a bit more open.

I’ve heard stories that Vladimir Putin is trying to bring the former Soviet countries back into Russia’s fold. Perhaps they have a lot of old maps that they still haven’t replaced yet. If this happens, I hope they at least have the good sense to call it the Soviet Reunion. I’d hate to see them blow an opportunity like that.

putin

“Hey, let’s get the gang back together and start Cold War 2: Cold Harder.”